Astronomy news

Black Holes, Sprites, Solar Flares and Interstellar Water

At ... research has found natural particle accelerators can be formed by lightning storms. When intense lightning discharges in thunderstorms coincide with high energy particles (cosmic rays) coming in from space nature forms a giant particle accelerator above the clouds - stripping electrons from air molecules. He is referring to lightning discharges above thunderstorms - known as sprites (see below).

Time Dilation

At there is a story with the title, 'Discovery that quasars don't show time dilation mystifies astronomers' ... which sounds like a question mark against the Big Bang Theory. The phenomenon of time dilation is explained by i) the speed of light is constant, and ii) the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate which causes light from distant objects to redshft. As space expands the interval between light pulses also lengthens.

Venus in the Sky

At is an article to warm the cockles of old time SIS stalwarts. It has the title, 'Venus is Alive - geologically speaking' and refers to images sent back from the Venus Express spacecraft that show young lava flows on the surface of the planet. There is also a video that can be clicked on with a visual insight of the discovery - refuting some scientists who claim it is geologically inactive because the surface of the planet is too smooth.

Bill Napier paper on the YD boundary event

The Bill Napier paper pops up at and is provided by the Royal Astronomical Society (see earlier post and link to pdf). Basically, Bill Napier is saying the YD event was not caused by a comet impact or airburst as such but by thousands of comet fragments and debris, a signifcant difference to the model developed by Firestone and West et al.

Dark Comets March 29th ... NASAs WISE satellite is finding dozens of dark asteroids and comets each day - most have not been previously detected. Within 3 months it has already found some asteroids classified as 'potentially dangerous' and between now and October, when the mission is aborted, NASA estimates WISE will discover 100,000 asteroids (yes, one hundred thousand of them) - many in the main Asteroid Belt but 100s of NEOs too.

Red Shift

Science Daily March 26th ( id 100325091430) - Astronomers at Leiden Observatory conducted an intensive survey of 446,000 galaxies in what is known as the COSMOS survey. Hubble photographed 575 slightly overlapping views of the same part of the universe which took 1000 hours. Researchers also used redshift dta from ground based telescopes to assign distances to the galaxies (out to red shift 5) which confirms Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the idea of accelerating cosmic expansion.

Mapping Venus

At March 22nd ... is another incredible piece of research. The article has a computer generated image of the surface of Venus created from radar images taken during NASAs Magellan mission during the 1990s. Peter James, a graduate student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences, has shown that plate tectonics do not seem to apply on Venus - or Mars and Mercury.

Water on the Moon id188149607 ... it was thought the Moon was the driest place in the solar system - but now we have reports of moon water 'pouring' in . Some 600 million metric tons of water distributed in 40 moon craters near the moon's north pole, have been discovered (possibly conjectural). NASA's mini-SAR radar imagining instrument onboard India's Chandrayaan spacecraft is responsible for the turn around in view.

Red Spot

The Daily Galaxy, March 17th ) - 'Unlocking the Secrets of Jupiter's Giant Red Spot' claims the red spot is a region of storminess, the reddest bits a warm core within an otherwise cold storm system. The findings come from an article in Icarus but see also where thermal images show the red spot in greater clarity than ever before.

Black Hole Fireworks

Daily Galaxy March 15th ( ) ... 'The Milky Way Monster Black Hole Awakes' is the headline to the story. It apparently fired a monster flare some 300 years ago (yes, just 300 years ago). An X-ray image of the centre of the Milky Way is dominated by Sagittaurus A, a massive black hole or chaotic region where young stars are surrounded by a layer of superheated gas visible only by X-ray imaging.